I don’t consider myself defined by one particular scent. I have three on the go at the moment, taking it in turns daily with each one. And I like to change. I’d have more if I could justify the expense to myself. I adore good perfume. My Miss Dior is running out. And as I don’t plan to fly anywhere in the foreseeable future and buying expensive perfume is strictly a Duty Free thing, there is no new bottle to replace it. And this is the original Miss Dior, not the peach-coloured liquid that smells rather cloying that has usurped it. I bought Versace when I returned from Copenhagen. It’s a lemony, fresh smell, not so dear and lighter. I thought I might go for some Opium but it felt too heavy, too intense for my present skin. Does it change, that intimate, personal skin as one ages? And I also wear Loulou. An inexpensive scent by Yardley, I think. That takes me back. All those Christmas presentation sets of Yardley’s Tweed that we bought for Mum. Did she ever actually use it? I doubt it. She was a Chanel or Guerlain woman and way beyond the reaches of our pocket money. And there were the Coty sets of soaps we bought for Nanny and J. They felt so grown-up to me, so exotic. Anyway, all this preamble is in response to my dream last night. I remember little of it but in it someone, I think it was a woman, someone I cared about, a sister perhaps, took against my perfume, the Loulou. I don’t like it, she said. In my dream that particular scent had become an embodiment of me, so her dislike of it felt personal. I was hurt. And even more so when she said she didn’t like someone else because they too reeked of it. Was it, is it, it’s cheapness? It is a girlish smell. Light, frivolous but sweet while not sickly.

It was raining when I went out this morning. I was going to take my ipod but I wanted to hear its pitter patter on my umbrella. I find it soothing, it closes, blankets me in. Walking past No. 1 I thought I saw something in the window. I thought the flat was empty though the FOR SALE sign had come down a while ago. Yes, there is something there. And I step back. There’s someone in the window, they’ve pulled the curtain aside and their hands are stretched out before them, clutching the top of the sash. What are they staring out? The bedroom window only looks out onto a fence. There was no light. They were staring from the dark into the dark. Are they a relative of the lady who died there? It was 3 am in the morning. What a desolate figure they made. I was a little undone by it. Yesterday I had a similar double-take. A dingy had been leant against one of the walls by the harbour and in the gloom I took it for a man. I was shaken and already planning my flit. It’s only a boat, up-ended and leaning. It’s those wee small hours they play such tricks.

The X-Ray was easy-peasy. Don’t worry, he said. And I didn’t. An Indian man called my name then asked if there was a middle name. There is and I told him. Do you want me to use it? he asked. No, that’s alright, I said. He told me to use one of the changing room to remove my bra. I told him I don’t wear one. Leave your t-shirt on, he said and lead me through to a large room with a bed and various collections of machinery hanging from the ceiling. I was told to breathe. When to exhale when to inhale and when to hold it. It’s the one time the heart stops, he said. He talked about cricket to him. The radiographer expressed his distaste telling how they use gallons and gallons of water to irrigate the pitches when the farmers have none. All done, he said. I’ll just check it. And they stood in that anteroom still talking cricket looking at my interior. Did you see anything? I asked him afterwards. Not really, just your ribs. I wanted to see. I wanted to see. Why didn’t I ask? I become so quiescent in hospitals.

My back was tight yesterday. He comes in to give me a pep talk. You’re a good person, he said. A creative person. Be kind to yourself. Yes, I say, I will.

I forgot to think of them last night. The lost and the fallen. Such violence. Was it just impatience? Or is he feral? A child punched to death. It is beyond comprehension, as his is continuing to attack. Was he not moved to stop? May the babe rest in peace. And he? I wish him redemption. His life in prison will be harsh, I think.

What can I say? What can I do? But care.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.